January 18th

Faith-filled Friends

39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord." Luke 1:39-45 NKJV 

This story shows how friends can really impact your faith.  Both Mary and Elizabeth were recipients of two of the most amazing miracles ever experienced in Israel.  Elizabeth was infertile and old, yet conceived John the Baptist, who would proclaim the coming of the Messiah.  Mary, a virgin, had conceived Jesus, who would redeem mankind.  The amazing circumstances of each of their situations certainly must have caused skepticism among their family and friends.  Some people were probably saying bad things about how they became pregnant.   Indeed, they were probably surrounded with unbelief.  

Mary and Elizabeth were able to encourage one another in faith about the amazing things that were taking place. Elizabeth blessed Mary with a loud voice, affirming what was to happen.  Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, gave God’s commentary on Mary’s faith and the effect it had on the miracle taking place.  Mary was blessed because she believed and the result was the fulfillment of the things spoken to her by the angel Gabriel.  Mary was moved to joy (vs 47) by Elizabeth’s encouragement and her faith was strengthened even further (see Mary’s Song 46-55).  

The practical application of this is that your friends and family can really affect your faith for better or worse.  Many well-meaning people have killed a person’s faith with their cautious skepticism regarding the power of God.  People will often try to help by encouraging hope in practical actions to resolve a crisis, instead of pointing the person to the true source of hope and power (Jesus).  

Addiction is one area that people are often overwhelmed.  They feel powerless to fight an evil adversary that knows their every weakness.  In such situations one finds what his friends and family really believe in.  Will they suggest actions to point the person to God, or some other source?   

When you look for friends or family to confide in about your struggle, look for those who will agree with you in faith that God will help you and strengthen you to victory.  You may face some difficult battles on the path to freedom, and encouragement from a faith-filled person will be a real blessing to you.  

God is the same healer and miracle worker that he was when Jesus walked the earth and his Spirit lives in you.  He will help you to break whatever bondage you are in today!  Look for someone who will agree with you on that. 

Questions for further thought:

Prayer: 

“Heavenly Father, thank you for calling me to be joined to the body of Christ in fellowship with other believers. Thank you for the faith-filled friends that I already have and how much of a blessing they are to me.  Please help me to be a blessing to them as well!  Please help me to find more friends who will encourage me in my walk with you.  If I have allowed any past emotional wounds to keep me from close friendships, please help me heal from the wounds and release any bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment and anger.  Holy Spirit, I invite you to fill me afresh and lead me on the path of righteousness.  I want to live as Jesus did.  Thank you, Lord!  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”